IL-15 induces strong but short-lived tumor-infiltrating CD8 T cell responses through the regulation of Tim-3 in breast cancer.
IL-15 has pivotal roles in the control of CD8(+) memory T cells and has been investigated as a therapeutic option in cancer therapy. Although IL-15 and IL-2 share many functions together, including the stimulation of CD8 T cell proliferation and IFN-γ production, the different in vivo roles of IL-15 and IL-2 have been increasingly recognized. Here, we explored the different effects of IL-15 and IL-2 on tumor-infiltrating (TI) T cells from resected breast tumors. We found that neither IL-2 nor IL-15 induced intratumoral CD8 T cell proliferation by itself, but after CD3/CD28-stimulation, IL-15 induced significantly higher proliferation than IL-2 during early time points, at day 2, day 3 and day 6. However, the IL-15-induced proliferation leveled off at day 9 and day 12, whereas IL-2 induced lower but progressive proliferation at each time point. Furthermore, IL-15 caused an early and robust increase of IFN-γ in the supernatant of TI cell cultures, which diminished at later time points, while the IL-2-induced IFN-γ production remained constant over time. In addition, the IL-15-costimulated CD8 T cells presented higher frequencies of apoptotic cells. The diminishing IL-15-induced response was possibly due to regulatory and/or exhaustion mechanisms. We did not observe increased IL-10 or PD-1 upregulation, but we have found an increase of Tim-3 upregulation on IL-15-, but not IL-2-stimulated cells. Blocking Tim-3 function using anti-Tim-3 antibodies resulted in increased IL-15-induced proliferation and IFN-γ production for a prolonged period of time, whereas adding Tim-3 ligand galectin 9 led to reduced proliferation and IFN-γ production. Our results suggest that IL-15 in combination of Tim-3 blocking antibodies could potentially act as an IL-2 alternative in tumor CD8 T cell expansion in vitro, a crucial step in adoptive T cell therapy.
Heon, EK; Wulan, H; Macdonald, LP; Malek, AO; Braunstein, GH; Eaves, CG; Schattner, MD; Allen, PM; Alexander, MO; Hawkins, CA; McGovern, DW; Freeman, RL; Amir, EP; Huse, JD; Zaltzman, JS; Kauff, NP; Meyers, PG; Gleason, MH; Overholtzer, MG; Wiseman, SS; Streutker, CD; Asa, SW; McAlindon, TP; Newcomb, PO; Sorensen, PM; Press, OA
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